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Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Contagion Movie Poster Image
All-star virus thriller is intense, uncompromising.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 105 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 36 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A deadly contagion is a challenging, deadly opponent, but humanity ultimately triumphs through perseverance and compassion. It may not be exactly how hard science works, but it's an admirable takeaway. (Also, wash your hands!)

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though some characters react poorly under pressure (looting and holding others hostage), many others are selfless, protective, and willing to put others first in the name of service and love.


Citizens loot and hurt others out of fear and panic; patients die frothing at the mouth. A gory autopsy is shown, with a scalp being pulled back.


A near-kiss between two teens. Discussions of one woman's philandering.


Infrequent use of words like "s--t," "ass," "hell," and "oh my God." Also one "f--k."


Many label mentions/appearances: Taco Bell, StarKist, Purell, Sbarro, Rayovac, Audi, Dasani.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking at a bar and casino.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this grim thriller about the spread of a deadly, fast-acting global virus helmed by Oscar-winner director Steven Soderbergh and populated by an all-star cast (including Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, among many others), may be too intense and/or overwhelming for younger kids given its stark, uncompromising depictions of death and the somber, sometimes scary exploration of what it's like to live in a constant state of fear. Expect disturbing imagery (including a gory autopsy) and mature themes, such as death (in one case, of a child) and infidelity. There's also some swearing (including "s--t") and social drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byflipflops2012 October 23, 2011

Not Too Inappropriate!

Contagion is quite dramatic, and sad. It was a good movie, but not as good as I expected it to be. It sort of dragged on, and I had a hard time staying awake to... Continue reading
Adult Written byerica921 September 21, 2015
Teen, 13 years old Written byMovieReviewGuy September 9, 2011

Good for 14+, Disturbing Content may scare younger viewers

(Suggested MPAA Rating:) Rated PG-13 for Disturbing Content and Some Language Parents should know two things: This movie has a lot of disturbing content; a dea... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 12, 2011


Not violence. However, I'm 12 and I was pretty darn scared, but not scared enough to leave the movie, almost, but not quite. My little 9 year old sister... Continue reading

What's the story?

Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), a married Minneapolis executive, flies to Hong Kong on business. Upon her return, she's gripped with flu-like symptoms, has a seizure in her kitchen, and dies. Her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon), is in shock. Meantime, the Center for Disease Control is flooded with calls from around the country -- and the globe; whatever killed Beth is killing plenty of other people, too. Meanwhile, a blogger (Jude Law) is convinced of a government conspiracy and hypes an alternative remedy, while others are up in arms and start looting. It's up to Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) and his investigators (including Kate Winslet), as well as other scientists and doctors around the world, to identify the agent and find a cure before the planet loses millions more citizens.

Is it any good?

With a stellar cast, a gripping pace, and a subject matter as hard to shake as the virus that spreads through its story, CONTAGION is a winner. (When your first instinct after seeing the movie is to attempt not to touch anything on your way home and to wash your hands thoroughly, you know it hit its marks.) Though some cast members have more camera time than others -- Damon, for instance, who's first rate, and Fishburne, in a meaty, satisfying role -- the film is a masterful ensemble piece in which no one hogs the spotlight.


Given the subject matter, it's surprising how Contagion doesn't unfold like a hospital-based TV drama. Jargon pops up in seemingly organic and very necessary moments; it's explained well, too. Emotional moments are used selectively, grounding the film in humanity without becoming maudlin (or manipulative). An Internet subplot hovers dangerously close to excess, but manages to pull away from the brink. All in all, it's a Soderbergh win.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes this film scary and/or intense. Is it the tone? The subject matter? Are you scared that something like this could really happen?

  • Parents, talk to your kids about any fears the movie raises. For tips, try this article.

  • How does the movie portray the Internet as a source of information regarding disease and health?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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